Over the passed few years, the PAC-12 has been nipping at the heels of the SEC for the title of College Football’s best conference. While that argument will continue to be made the next few years, there is no doubt that Pac-12 has caught up, if not surpassed, the SEC in terms of player talent. Last year’s draft was light in the first round in terms of Pac-12 players in relation to the SEC, but that was due in part to underclassmen declarations. Like last year, the overall talent of the Pac-12 is phenomenal when including underclassmen and this could be the year the Pac-12 takes over the first round.
Marcus Mariota (Oregon): If Marcus Mariota had declared last year, there was a very good chance he would have gone first overall. He has a great build (6-4,220) and is incredibly athletic. He is not your average Oregon quarterback though. He has a fantastic arm with accuracy and touch that can threaten every level of the field. Mariota also manages the pocket very well. There are questions about his ability to succeed outside of Oregon’s offense. He has the ability to test tight windows, but will need to adjust to the NFL. My main concern is proving he can stay healthy. He had a knee issue midseason last year that affected his play, but looked much better towards the end of the season when he was healthy. If Mariota can build on a fantastic sophomore season, he could absolutely go first overall.
Second Team: Brett Hundley (UCLA)
Javorious Allen (USC): Allen was USC’s biggest contributor last year in the running game, coming on very strong at the end of the season and he has potential to emerge as a top back in the country from a production standpoint. He is a thickly built back (6, 220) with decent acceleration, solid vision and a hard running style. He needs to improve his pad level and he isn’t the fastest player, but he is a power back who can contribute.
Barry Sanders Jr. (Stanford): It may seem like I am being a bit hasty with this, because I am, but Sanders is a tremendously talented back (With decent bloodlines, I guess) who flashed whenever he got his hands on the ball. He has a smaller build (5-10, 190) but shows very good power and downhill acceleration. He doesn’t have quite the wiggle that his dad had, but who does? Sanders is a talented all around back and should break out as Stanford’s featured back this year.
Second Team: Byron Marshall (Oregon), Storm Woods (Oregon State)
Kasen Williams (Washington): Williams has fought through injuries and sub par QB play his entire career at Washington, but this could finally be the year he shows the world how talented he is. Williams has a huge, thickly built frame (6-2, 220) and possess incredible strength and possession ability. He dominates the catch point and uses his strength to threaten after the catch. He doesn’t have great speed, but possesses good acceleration out of his breaks and his ability at the catch point should alleviate concerns about separation. Williams can not do much better than what he is doing already, which is somewhat of a worry, but he has a fantastic skill set to take on the NFL with.
Dres Anderson (Utah): One of the few bright spots on the Utes last year, Anderson is a dynamic receiver with the speed to take on the next level. He has a good height but a slight build (6-1,190) and some may have concerns that his lack of muscularity could hurt him in the NFL. Regardless, he has great body control, runs good routes and is willing to make tough catches. The thing that stands out most is his acceleration. He may not have the best long speed, but he has fantastic burst, which is more important. If Anderson is able to ad weight without losing his speed, he could be an even bigger threat this year.
Second Team: Chris Harper (Cal) , Jaelen Strong (ASU)
Pharaoh Brown (Oregon): With Colt Lyerla falling out of graces with Oregon last year, we got a glimpse of the talented Brown. Brown has good size (6-4, 241), with very good athletic ability and good hands. He is a bit unproven at this point, but flashed majorly and could have a huge year ahead of him.
Second Team: Johnny Mundt (Oregon)
Andrus Peat (Stanford): Peat is a whole other animal from the average Stanford lineman. Like most Cardinal linemen, he is huge, but he is also a fantastic athlete. Peat possesses fantastic movement skills and bullying strength. He has top pick potential, but needs to play meaner and more aware, too often he is catching defenders instead of using a punch. Peat prototypical in almost every way physically, but he needs to show mental edge to solidify himself as a potential top prospect.
Tyler Johnstone (Oregon): Johnstone is another player in a long line of talented Oregon linemen. He has incredible athletic ability, great size and length (6-6,283) and displays impressive strength for a man his size. His anchor is a bit unproven, but he is very impressive coming downhill and has quick feet, which he does a great job of mirroring with. If he can prove his strength and show a lower weight isn’t an issue, he could sneak into the first round.
Second Team: Jake Fisher (Oregon), Mickey Baucus (Arizona)
Jamil Douglas (ASU): Douglas possesses good size (6-4, 301) and quickness. He is a smart, agile pass blocker who has good feet and hands. He needs to improve technique in the run game, but has the physical ability to impact their. He is an intriguing prospect going forward and could make improvements with tweaks to his technique.
Audrey Walker (USC): Walker has moved all over the USC line during his career, but he looks most natural at guard. He has good build with long arms (6-5, 300) and is a very powerful player. He does not have good movement skills, but there is value in his skill set as a power blocker in the NFL.
Second Team: Isaac Seumalo (OSU), Jordan Rigsbee (Cal)
Hronnis Grasu (Oregon): Grasu is another athletic Oregon linemen looking to impact in the NFL. He has good size (6-3, 297), fantastic feet and displays decent lower body strength. He needs to improve his instincts in pass protection and in the run game, but when he gets it right he is a fantastic blocker. If he consistently hit blocks his senior year, he could be vying for the top center spot.
Second Team: Daniel Munyer (Colorado)
Interior Defensive Line
Leonard Williams (USC): Williams has a strong chance of being the best prospect in this class. He is a gigantic person (6-4, 290) with a great build and super human strength. He has a good burst off the line and can move well laterally. He is incredibly versatile and proved to disrupt plays from everywhere a long the line. He needs to improve his leverage so his power is better applied, but Williams has very few flaws. He is incredibly gifted and can be in the conversation for the number one overall pick.
Arik Armstead (Oregon): When Oregon recruits defensive linemen; they recruit them big and fast. Armstead is actually so big and fast that he was a contributor on Oregon’s basketball team. Despite being viewed by many as an offensive tackle in high school, Armstead has grown into playing defensive line and has tremendous abilty at the next level. He has imposing size (6-7, 296), nimble feet and impressive natural power. He has issues with leverage due to his height, but he is a freaky player with endless upside.
Second Team: Ellis McCarthy (UCLA), Danny Shelton (Washington)
Hau’oli Kikaha (Washington): Kikaha is a powerful but undersized (6-3, 260) defensive linemen and he is a head scratcher of a player in the NFL. Stylistically, he plays the part of a power rusher. He has strong hands and fantastic burst off the line. He is high motor, but isn’t very quick and has issues bending the edge. It is going to be hard for him to play like he does in the NFL at his size, but he is certainly intriguing.
Tony Washington (Oregon): Washington is another undersized lineman (6-3, 250), but his skill set better translates to outside linebacker. He has quick feet; good burst and can bend the edge, but also can drop into coverage. His instincts need a little work and he needs to get stronger to avoid getting washed out in the running game. As of now, he is a good situation pass rusher with the upside to be an every down player.
Second Team: Deforest Buckner (Oregon), Dylan Wynn (OSU)
Shaq Thompson (Washington): Thompson made the transition from safety to linebacker last year and looks like that is where he will contribute in the NFL. He is smaller (6-2, 225) and tends to get pushed around by bigger linemen, but he is an incredibly active player. He is very smart and decisive with fantastic burst and range. He attacks the play constantly and if he get there, he is a finisher. He is a strong tackler in the open field and is incredibly gifted in coverage. He is a prototypical weak side linebacker and he could be the first linebacker off the board despite his size due to how physically and mentally gifted Thompson is.
Eric Kendricks (UCLA): Like his older brother, Mychal, Kendricks is a smaller linebacker (6, 228) with great quickness and an aggressive mentality. Kendricks moves well in coverage and has good instincts and will fly around in the open field to make tackles. In traffic, Kendricks uses his quickness to evade blocks rather than take them on. I do not think this will work consistently in the NFL and his lack of lengths make him liability once blocked, but he has interesting tools that can impact in the NFL.
Derrick Malone (Oregon): All of these Pac-12 linebackers are so small! (6-3, 220) The former safety looks just like that playing the linebacker position. He has great quickness and closing speed in coverage, but lacks the sand to hold up against the run. He is likely a nickel player in the NFL unless he can add strength.
Second Team: AJ Tarpley (Stanford), Hayes Pullard (USC), Michael Doctor (OSU)
Ifo Ekpre Olomu (Oregon): Ekpre Olomu would have been my top corner in this passed year’s draft and likely would have gone in the Top 20 had he declared. His is undersized (5-9, 195), but he has great quickness, ball skills and physicality. He is an incredibly smart player who is active in the run and is an aggressive tackler. He really has few concerns outside of his size, but teams could take issue with just that.
Marcus Peters (Washington): At the other end of the size spectrum sits Peters (6, 190). Peters has long arms and great physicality that he uses to jam receivers at the line. He isn’t the most athletic corner, but he does a good job of making receivers play his speed. He is a smart player and recognizes plays very well. He is a strong tackler and plays the run very well. I worry about his overall athletic ability and lack of ball tracking skills, but I think he is a very physical corner who could make a great impact in the NFL.
Second Team: Wayne Lyons (Stanford), Alex Carter (Stanford)
Jordan Richards (Stanford): Richards is a small but quick safety who has good burst and recognition ability. He flies all around the field in coverage and against the run, but his size does hurt him if he is down in the box and he has issues manning up on bigger players. However, there is certainly a role for a smart, agile safety in the NFL.
Josh Shaw (USC): Shaw spent time at safety and cornerback over the passed few years for the Trojans but I feel he is a much better fit at safety. He has a big frame and a strong build (6-1, 195) with quick feet and fluid hips. He is not fast in a straight line, but has great burst to help him close. He is a smart player and a strong tackler and though I think he can be a good corner in the NFL, he has all the tools of a very good NFL safety.
Second Team: Anthony Jefferson (UCLA), Tra’Mayne Bondurant (Arizona)
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